“It is clear that biofuels industries can grow economies, particularly in regional and rural areas where there is an abundance of agriculture residue that can be transformed into high-value bio-products.”
Australia has joined the US in its recognition of the economic benefits of bio-based industry, after the Antipodean country claimed that increasing biofuel use there by 10% could create a spike in employment of more than 8,600 and bring billions of dollars of revenue and investment.
The announcement comes as part of a drive from Australia to bring to life a biofuel industry that has been neglected for more than a decade, according to economists from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), whom affirmed that increasing bioethanol production could play a huge part in lifting the country’s energy security.
The principal research scientist at QUT, Professor Ian O’Hara, said that biofuels, an area where Australia “lags behind” countries such as the US and Brazil, only accounted for 1.1% of Australia’s total petrol sales in 2016. Raising that to 10%, he said, would generate around 8,600 direct and indirect jobs, bring around $1.5bn (£820m) of investment to its shores and create around $1bn (£547m) in additional annual revenue.
“It is clear that biofuels industries can grow economies, particularly in regional and rural areas where there is an abundance of agriculture residue that can be transformed into high-value bioproducts,” said Professor O’Hara.
The current international standard for total global energy production is 10.4%, according to figures quoted by Bioenergy Australia, the organisation which exists to further the country’s bioeconomy aspirations. The group added that in four years’ time the world market for bio-products is expected to exceed $1.1tn (£602bn).
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a report last month that was clear about the positive impact the bioeconomy was having on the country, with biofuel in particularly rude health. Indicators of the U.S. Biobased Economy showed that biofuel production had increased by 266% in the five years leading to 2015, with ethanol production in the US surpassing 14.7bn gallons – a rise of 8,000% from 1980 levels of 175m gallons. David Babson, senior advisor at USDA, said that it was successes of that kind that has led to the creation of more than four million jobs in the US.
In a bid to help Australia catch up with the international market @QUT and Bioenergy Australia (@BioenAustralia) have devised a five-point plan informed by international experience and evidence to increase biofuel production:
- Develop a national biofuels strategy.
- Implement a national biofuels mandate.
- Support growth with education, incentives and infrastructure.
- Establish policy frameworks for advanced/drop-in biofuels.
- Support commercial developments through industry and research collaboration.
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